Covid vaccine booster trial begins - so what will scientists hope to learn?

Interest in vaccine trials is usually pretty thin on the ground but since the pandemic that has changed.

Virtually every Covid vaccine trial is getting coverage and we're all now much more interested in not only them but their outcomes.

Today, the first person will receive their third Covid vaccine as part of a trial looking at the safety and efficacy of booster jabs.A few months ago, the Government told us they are planning a booster programme in the autumn. What they didn't say was who would get it, was it really needed and which jab they would receive; that is because they simply don't know without trialling it.

That trial starts today and its outcome will form the basis of the booster programme. Seven different Covid vaccines are being used, they will be injected into volunteers who have already had two doses of either the same vaccine or a different one.

The trial aims to find out whether a booster provides even more protection and how long that protection lasts, as well as what sort of side effects it causes. It's hoped a booster will increase the level of antibodies our body produces and help protect us further against any new variants, including the strain first detected in India.

What groups will be targeted first in the Covid vaccine booster trials? Dr Sarah Jarvis explains

This trial is significant for a number of reasons. It will determine whether we actually need booster jabs and if so, it may mean booster jabs are required on a regular basis.

It will also determine the safety of giving a booster which might be a different brand of vaccine.

All this information will be given to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in early autumn, they will assess it and decide who will get it (presumably the most vulnerable and elderly) and when they will get it (again, presumable as soon as possible to protect them going in to winter). 

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